News for September 16, 1999
Council to look at revised tax plan
by Paul Leakan
After weeks of debating whether to give telemarketing companies special
tax breaks, Clarksburg City Council will consider a new plan tonight that
would offer a similar deal to all new businesses that come into certain
areas of the city.
Several council members have expressed concern over a proposed ordinance
that would offer certain telemarketing companies special breaks on business
and occupation taxes.
Councilwomen Becky Lake and Margaret Bailey both questioned the fairness
of the ordinance, which has been tabled twice.
Now, council may decide to give its support to a new ordinance addressing
the tax breaks when it meets at 7:30 tonight in the Municipal Building.
"It appears that they're looking for a sense of fairness among all
businesses," said City Manager Percy Ashcraft.
"Instead of just opening it to the telemarketing industry and allowing
a credit based on jobs, it seemed to be a push from council to offer a
credit to all businesses based on jobs."
Under the new ordinance, the city would offer any person who locates
or has located a new business in certain areas of the city after May 1,
1999, the following:
-- A 100 percent waiver on business and occupation taxes for the first
three years if the business creates 100 jobs.
-- A 50 percent reduction on B&O taxes if the business creates
between 200 and 399 new jobs from its fourth to 10th year.
-- A 75 percent reduction on B&O taxes if the business creates
between 400 and 699 new jobs from their fourth to 10th year.
-- A 100 percent waiver on B&O taxes if the business creates 700
or more new jobs from their fourth to 10th year.
In order to qualify for the deal, the new businesses would have to
move into either the central business district, business and technology
center, Glen Elk areas or any heavy industrial zone -- areas that are designated
and defined by the city.
In addition, the businesses must not have been located in the city
in the previous 10 years and must provide copies of payrolls certified
as "true and accurate" to the city. From the payroll information, the city's
finance director would determine whether a business qualifies for the tax
The purpose of the ordinance is to target areas that need help with
economic development, Ashcraft said. For example, businesses located in
areas like the Newpointe shopping center and Rose Bud Plaza would not be
eligible for the deal.
"You don't need to stimulate an area that is already growing," Ashcraft
said. "We're just trying to kick-start areas that need help."
Public meeting set on bridge replacement
by Gail Marsh
The West Virginia Division of Highways has scheduled a public meeting
for Sept. 30 in Shinnston to discuss the proposed replacement of the Shinnston
Bridge, the bridge that carries traffic across the West Fork River along
U.S. Route 19.
The meeting is set for 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Lincoln High School.
Matt DiGiulian, project manager with the DOH, said the plans to replace
the bridge are still in the beginning stages.
"This is an aging bridge that already has posted weight restrictions.
Our concern is that it be repaired or replaced before it gets to the point
that it can't handle the traffic that flows through that area," DiGiulian
The meeting will be in a workshop format, which will give residents
a chance to ask questions and give their views on the advantages and disadvantages
of three different proposals for replacing the bridge.
The alternatives range in cost from $4.9 million to $5.2 million and
would affect from one to four residences and from one to four businesses.
Work could start on a new bridge as early as the fall of 2001 or the spring
of 2002, DiGiulian said.
"We've done a preliminary study to try to determine the most cost effective
way to replace the bridge while affecting the least number of people. Those
plans will be discussed in detail at the meeting," he said.
DiGiulian said the new bridge would have at least two through lanes
and a turning lane, along with five-foot sidewalks.
"It's still very early in the study. That's why we are holding the
public meeting, to get local input to see what the residents want," he
Floyd having an impact on local travelers
by James Fisher
Local travelers wanting to visit the southeast United States will have
to wait until later this week or next week to find any flights going anywhere
near the Atlantic Coast because of Hurricane Floyd.
Floyd, which was expected to hit the Eastern Seaboard somewhere in
North or South Carolina earlier this morning, has caused USAir to cancel
all flights in and out of many cities on the East Coast, said Rick Weintraub,
spokesman for the airline.
"We have flights everywhere, but we service a huge portion of the Eastern
Coast," Weintraub said. "Earlier in the week we had canceled all flights
to the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area."
Weintraub said flights are being reinstated as the weather pattern
moves away from the affected areas. However, that means cancellations are
steadily moving up the East Coast.
"Probably later tonight (Wednesday) we'll have to begin canceling flights
in the Virginias and Maryland," he said. "We've already started flying
out of Miami, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale."
Delta Air Lines has also canceled many flights to the region. Most
major airports in North and South Carolina and Virginia did not have Delta
flights Wednesday or today, according to a press release.
Delta and USAir officials are continuing to update flight schedules
based on weather conditions.
Weintraub said USAir officials have been conducting conference calls
between the main headquarters and the individual flight operation centers
at least three times per day since Monday.
"We're constantly updating our flights based on the weather patterns,"
he said. "We've been trying to determine the pattern of the hurricane and
Travelers whose flights were canceled because of Floyd will have their
reservations adjusted by USAir at no additional cost, Weintraub said.
"We'll do everything we can to re-accommodate those people," he said.
Weintraub said the airline did not yet have specific numbers on how
many flights had been canceled or on how many travelers had been stranded
on the East Coast.
West Milford gets federal grant to hire an extra police officer
by Gail Marsh
The city of West Milford has received a federal COPS grant that will
allow it to hire an additional officer this fall, officials said Wednesday.
Roy D. Smith, West Milford's mayor, said the city was notified recently
that it will receive $31,800 to hire a 30-hour-per-week police office to
help supplement the city's part-time police chief and one full-time officer.
The city received a previous COPS grant for a full-time officer, but
that grant ran out in December. Under the terms of the grant, the city
is obligated to keep the officer employed until the end of June 2000.
The new officer can be hired immediately, Smith said.
"We are running a classified ad right now and are taking applications
at City Hall. We're enthused about being able to get another police officer
out on the street," Smith said.
Currently, Chief Ron Cork serves the city "on call" after he finishes
his other full-time job, while Patrolman Jeff Kennedy works as West Milford's
only full-time officer.
Kennedy works with his trained drug dog, a German shepherd called Lucky.
Lucky has been involved in the majority of 31 drug busts in the last five
months in the city limits.
"We've stopped people for routine traffic violations and ended up finding
drugs. It's mostly been marijuana, but there's been some pills and possibly
some black tar heroin. That's being tested at the state lab," Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the new officer will be able to patrol for speeders and
drunk drivers, along with covering the city's routine complaint calls about
things like noise and dogs.
"We'll be a little better staffed so we'll be able to do things more
consistently and be able to get more involved with the community in some
prevention programs," he said.
Local and area news in brief
Gilmer County a step closer to getting federal prison
CHARLESTON (AP) -- The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has signed land transfer
documents to take possession of 333 acres for a medium-security federal
prison near Glenville in Gilmer County.
U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd and Rep. Bob Wise, both D-W.Va., joined bureau
director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer for the transfer Tuesday. "I look forward
to the day when we can break ground on the new prison and begin construction,"
The $135 million prison will alleviate overcrowding at other federal
prisons and employ about 350 people, giving the region an economic boost,
Fayette County inmate tries to strangle officer
BECKLEY (AP) -- A Fayette County prisoner faces an attempted murder charge
after he tried to strangle an officer who was driving him to jail after
a court appearance.
Russell Edwards Junior of Oak Hill and two other inmates were in a
Fayette County Sheriff's Department cruiser Tuesday en route to the Southern
Regional Jail in Raleigh County.
Edwards was sitting behind Bill Webb in the cruiser, which did not
have protective glass to shield the driver. He squirmed out of his chains,
threw them around Webb's throat and tried to choke him, said Fayette County
Sheriff Larry Dotson. Vans normally are used to transport inmates, but
a van was not available, said Dotson.
Webb was able to stop the cruiser. Beckley Patrolman Aaron Young, who
was driving a car behind the cruiser, then helped Webb subdue the inmate.
WVU in program to promote jobs for disabled people
CHARLESTON (AP) -- West Virginia University has begun a three-year pilot
program to help people with disabilities find work in the university and
its branch campuses, officials announced Wednesday.
"WVU will benefit from adding well-qualified people to our staff with
experience we can learn from," said university President David C. Hardesty,
who joined Gov. Cecil Underwood at the state Capitol to announce the program.
Underwood called the program a first-of-its-kind partnership between
state government and a university to help maximize the working potential
of people with disabilities.
State jobless rate rises a fraction in August
CHARLESTON (AP) -- Unemployment increased a tenth of a percentage point
in August to give West Virginia a 6 percent rate for the month, the Bureau
of Employment Pro-grams announced Wednesday.
Overall, employment fell by 1,800 jobs to 728,200 during the month.
The number of unemployed West Virginians increased to 50,600.
West Virginia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate also is up three-tenths
of a percentage point to 6.4 percent. The national seasonally adjusted
unemployment rate for the month was 4.2 percent.
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Copyright © Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999